Pot is filled with over 100 active compounds that help get you high. THC and CBD are the most famous, but many of these other "cannabinoids" offer their own unique qualities. When I went hunting for rare cannabinoids last 4/20, I was able to find syringes filled with Delta-8 THC and tinctures full of sleepy CBN. But I could never track down what is probably the most sought after cannabinoid in the world: THCV.
This pot compound supposedly gives you energy and curbs your appetite, giving it obvious recreational potential and nicknames like "skinny pot" or the "sports car of weed." The closest I could get to this rare cannabinoid was interviewing Kymron deCesare, the chief research officer for the largest pot testing company in the country, Steep Hill Labs.
"For more than a year and a half, I have been sitting on six pounds of plant matter that I know for a fact contains 200 to 250 grams of THCV," deCesare told me at the time.
Well, it looks like deCesare isn't the only person in the country with THCV: A California company says they are releasing vape pens filled with 25 to 30 percent THCV on October 31 of this year. The company's website lists two versions of the vape pens, one with THCV and CBD called "relief," and another with just THCV called "Skinny."
THCV can't be synthesized—at least, no one has figured out a way to do it—so companies looking for this compound need to find a plant that naturally grows it. Vice News followed strain hunters that trekked deep into Africa looking for heirloom plants that might produce this compound. One guy even died looking for it. And every single pot processor I spoke with in Washington for my story said they are trying to get their hands on the compound.
How did California Cannabinoids get a hold of some THCV? It turns out they are the people that gave deCesare his six pounds of THCV-rich "Doug's Varin" strain, according to David Lampach, the owner of the company.
"Doug and I are partners in the company that owns the Doug's Varin brand and strain. Doug probably shared plant material with Kymron, or at least that's my guess," Lampach told me in an e-mail.
Lampach said they are growing their Doug's Varin strain at an outdoor farm in Mendocino County and are currently using a CO2 extractor to make their vape cartridges. He said they are ready to meet the demand for this product.
"We will start out in a smaller number of stores, but we have enough to feed market demand, and can scale reasonably quickly," Lampach said.
I would normally be very skeptical of anyone claiming to sell THCV until I saw a the actual product and test results to prove there is THCV. There's a crazy amount of fake pot products that are marketed on the internet but never actually exist in real life. But this might be the real deal; Lampach is a co-founder of SteepHill Labs although he doesn't work with them any longer.
Lampach said they are only selling their THCV product in vape cartridges, not loose leaf flower, because the strain only has about 7 percent THC and 7 percent THCV, making for a very leafy smoking experience.
"The flower has been bred for characteristics entirely unrelated to things you expect from a typical desirable cannabis strain. While it is very high in THCV (around 7 percent as flower), it is less desirable organoleptically speaking," Lampach said. "It smokes like there is too much plant material."
I have yet to try anything that I know has THCV in it, so the ban on interstate cannabis commerce is particularly annoying in this instance. Anyone want to commit a federal felony to get one of these vape pens to Seattle? (I'm only half joking.) Lampach said eventually they want to license their strain to other companies across the country.
"We produce commercial scale quantities of THCV in California, but I'd like to get into Washington. We are actively looking for partners and brand licensees in other states," Lampach said. "It's a bit tricky, since we have never let anyone else control our genetics."